Examine the Factors That Affect Success in a Multicultural Workplace

Topics: Project management, Management, Cross-cultural communication Pages: 20 (6917 words) Published: August 26, 2013
African Journal of Business Management Vol. 4(13), pp. 2625-2633, 4 October, 2010 Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJBM ISSN 1993-8233 ©2010 Academic Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Creating synergy for cross-cultural teams in international R&D projects S. X. Zeng1*, C. M. Tam2, Thomas K. L. Tong2 and P. M. Sun1

Antai School of Management, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200052, China. College of Science and Engineering, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Accepted 3 February, 2010


Cross-cultural management is often regarded as one of the disciplines in international management focusing on cultural encounters between what are perceived as well-defined and homogeneous entities: the organization and the nation-state and offering tools to handle cultural differences seen as sources of conflict or miscommunication. Hence, there is a pressing need to understand the cultural diversity and exercise proper measures to manage it. This paper explores the factors affecting crosscultural management in R&D projects using Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Using the method of PCA, this paper explores the factors affecting international R&D project management under a combination of Chinese and Western cultures. Eight principal components are extracted and labeled, and the top two include: (1) behavioral characteristics; and (2) social environment. In behavioral characteristics, it is found that Chinese prefer to work in a stable environment and they may find difficulties in adapting to an unfamiliar environment comparing to the West. They would strongly react to losing face events such as being criticized by managers publicly, or being evaluated by an unfamiliar performance evaluation method, etc. Under the social environment, the Chinese government, as an indispensable mediator in the social environment of projects, plays an important role in approving projects, allocating resources, and arranging finance. For multinational corporations in China, the skills of managing corporate-government relations and communications are essential. From the above study, it is hoped that some recommendations can be generated on how people with different cultural and valuing background can create synergy for effective management of R&D projects in multinational firms. Key words: International project, cross-cultural management, R&D, multinational firm, principal component analysis. INTRODUCTION Under the globalized environment of business, management of “international project” becomes a major trend today (Kealey et al., 2006). The question of running international projects characterized with cross-culture has come to the forefront of management thinking (Evans, 2006; Kauser and Shaw, 2004). Over the past ten years, much has been researched about management in crosscultural organizations. Cross cultural management is *Corresponding author. E-mail: zengsaixing@sjtu.edu.cn. Tel: 86-21-52302563. Fax: 86-21-62932577.

often regarded as a discipline of international management focusing on cultural encounters between what are perceived as well-defined and homogeneous entities: the organization and the nation-state, and offering tools to handle cultural differences seen as sources of conflict or miscommunication (Jassawalla et al., 2004; Søderberg and Holden, 2002). In this context, it is important to emphasize the cultural diversity (Iguisi, 2009; Haslberger, 2005). This diversity in backgrounds and cultural heritage offers a big challenge to project managers as most of these projects are temporary and of short life cycle, giving little time for the project team to iron out the cultural


Afr. J. Bus. Manage.

diversity (Zwikael et al., 2005). People involved in international projects from different countries and with different skills and talents come together to achieve the same project goal. The social factors also contribute to difficulties in management of cross-cultural projects....

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